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Hebrews 10:14, which speaks about what Jesus accomplished by His death on the cross:
“For by one offering [or by one sacrifice] He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified.”
The one offering or the one sacrifice is the sacrifice He made of Himself on the cross. And by that one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified. That means to say He has provided every need for time and eternity in every area of the life of every person who trusts in Him. There is nothing more that He has to do. He has done it all. It is one complete all sufficient sacrifice. That’s the first part of that statement.
Then it speaks about those who are being sanctified or set apart to God or drawn closer to God. That’s an ongoing process. What Jesus has done is once for all, it’s total, it’s complete. But our appreciation of it, our appropriation of it is progressive. But we need to start from the fact that the actual sacrifice is totally complete.
When I minister in the Third World, as I do quite often, I try to use very simple pictures that will help the people to understand. Actually, the same simple pictures will help people in New Zealand, too, but people in New Zealand might not realize it. So I just want to share with you two pictures that I use. First of all, in Pakistan a year and a half ago. Pakistan is a 98% Moslem country with 84 million people. The Christians, and they’re really only nominal Christians, are just a tiny, oppressed, despised minority. But the Lord opened the way for Ruth and me with a team of five others to go and spend nine days in three of the main cities proclaiming the Word of God.
It was announced in advance that we would pray for the sick. Well, our first meeting was in Karachi which is the main port, a city of about 8 million people. And before we went to the meeting the leader of team that had invited us, a team of indigenous local Pakistani Christians, took us to see the Christian quarter of Karachi. And I’ve seen a lot of poverty in my life but I have never seen such poverty or such squalor. It really almost made my physically ill. And I got a little glimpse of what it’s like to be a Christian in a Moslem nation. Well, they announced that they were just going to have one meeting in Karachi because other preachers had been there first, and then they were going to take us to other part of the country where other preachers had not been. So I said to the leader, I said, “Where are we going to hold this first meeting?” He said, “In our church.” Well, having measured the total economic state of the people I wondered what that would be like. I said, “How many people are you expecting?” He said about 600. I said, “How many does your church hold?” He said 300. So I didn’t bother to reason that out.
So they packed our team up in a little van and drove to the area of Karachi where the meetings were to be held. True to Pakistani time we arrived one hour late. When we got near the place where the church was we never saw the church, because at a main intersection—it was not main roads, it was just dust roads—there were about 3,000 people just packed in this intersection. This was the congregation. The reason why they’d come, very simple, they heard we would pray for the sick.
So they squeezed me in through the crowd and got me onto a little platform just big enough for me and my Bible and a pulpit and I was surrounded every side by Pakistanis. I mean, there were no space, there were no aisles, there was no nothing. And they were all squatting on the ground. So I thought to myself, “God, what am I to say to these people?” And God gave me this thought which I’m sharing with you. I said to them, “Now, if you people were all hungry and I were the owner of an orange grove, there’s two things I could do for you. I could get an orange from my grove and give you one. Which would temporarily stave off your hunger. The other thing I could do is take you to my orange grove, show you the trees laden with fruit and say help yourself. I said, “Tonight I’m going to take you to the orange grove and you can help yourselves.”
That’s what I’m going to do here tonight, I’m going to take you to the orange grove. The orange grove is the truth about the cross. And so, I preached to them in brief outline what I’m going to preach to you tonight and then I said, “Now how many of you would like to receive Jesus as your personal savior?” And I suppose half the people stood, which was about 1500 people. Now of those at least 500 or more were Moslems. I can’t take time to explain to you the differences between Islam and Christianity but one thing is they do not believe that Jesus died on the cross. And they do not acknowledge that Jesus is the Son of God. So when these people stood up—of course, all this was through an interpreter—I led them in a prayer and asked every one of them to follow me. And I began the prayer this way: “Lord Jesus Christ, I believe that you are the Son of God and the only way to God, that you died on the cross for my sins and rose again from the dead.” And they all repeated those words out loud after me. Now I’m not saying they were all saved but to get 500 or more Moslems in a Moslem country in front of their own Moslems to say those words could only have been achieved by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Then I said to myself we’ve got to redeem our promise to pray for the sick. There was no way to get to them. In any case it would have taken hours so I said, “How many of you want to be prayed for for healing?” And I think about 90 percent raised their hands. And I mean, they were sick. People in Pakistan are sick. There aren’t many really healthy people. That’s really quite typical of a lot of the Third World. I said, “I’m going to pray a prayer for you and I want you if you’ve got some part of your body that’s sick to put your hand on the sick part. And as I pray believe that God will touch you.” I prayed a prayer—all this had to be interpreted into Urdu—and I finished praying. I thought we’ve got to do something about this so I said, “How many of you believe God healed you?” Well, a few people rather timidly began to put their hands up. Then there was a disturbance about ten feet away in front of me. One of the Pakistani Christians went down and discovered what had happened. A Moslem boy of 12 had been born deaf and dumb. He had never heard and never spoken. And when I prayed he received his hearing and began to try to speak. They got him up on the platform and the place just went wild. Every Pakistani lady in the congregation determined that we ought to lay hands on her. And they didn’t ask our consent, they just grabbed hold of our arms and placed our hands on their heads.
Well, news spreads and the next place we went to the crowds built to about 16,000. And the local Pakistanis estimated that in nine days between 8 and 9,000 people prayed for salvation. The leader of the group told me a year later that when he went there he was responsible for five churches. A year later he was responsible for eighteen churches. Well, that was taking them to the orange grove, see what I’m saying?
Then I was in Zambia a little bit earlier if I remember rightly. And I had a crowd of about 7,000 Africans, mainly leaders, gathered. I planned to teach them on the cross systematically. And I did for about six successive mornings. I said to them—they were all professing Christians basically—”Now, God has a wonderful storehouse and it’s filled with absolutely everything that you could ever need, whether it’s spiritual, material, physical, in time or in eternity. It’s just got everything you need. But the storehouse has a keeper and in order to get anything out of the storehouse you’ve got to make friends with the keeper.” I said, “Do you know the name of the keeper?” Some of them said Jesus. I said, “That’s a good answer but it’s not right. The keeper of the storehouse is the Holy Spirit.” All the wealth of the Godhead, Father and Son, is in the hands of the Holy Spirit. How important to understand that. You see, you can have all the right doctrine, you can have all the right theory, you can say all the right things, but you only get as much as you get from the Holy Spirit. He keeps the storehouse.
Then I said to them, “The Holy Spirit has one key that opens the storehouse, only one. And it’s got a very special shape. Do you know what the shape of the key is?” They didn’t guess so I said it’s the cross. And only when the Holy Spirit uses the cross to open the storehouse do the treasures of God become available to you. So that’s a little introduction to what I’m going to teach you tonight.
I think also that I should support it from personal experience. I mentioned earlier this evening that I came to know the Lord in an army barrack room in the British Army in World War II about midnight. I was so much of a ignorant pagan that I didn’t know you had to go to church to get saved. So before anything could happen I got saved in an army barrack room. About ten days later I was baptized in the Holy Spirit in the same army barrack room. Nobody told me you had to go to church to get the baptism. Within 24 hours God gave me the gift of interpretation of tongues. I didn’t know you had to wait six months to get the spiritual gift.
Shortly after that the British Army sent me overseas to North Africa and I spent the next three years in the deserts of North Africa. During that time I became sick with a condition that the doctors could not heal, a skin condition. If you get the little book God’s Medicine Bottle, it’s got my personal testimony and how I eventually received healing. I was moved from one hospital to another and I ended up in the British military hospital in a place called Aballah on the Suez Canal. Well, there was a very unusual lady at that time in the city of Cairo. She was a brigadier in the Salvation Army. She was a brigadier because her husband who had died had been a brigadier. And in the Salvation Army the widow takes the husband’s rank. She was 76 years old at the time and there was very unusual Salvationists in those days because she was a tongue speaker. And she was as militant about speaking in tongues as Salvationists normally are about salvation. She also had received divine healing from God in India from malaria 25 years previously and had never taken medicine since. I had met her once and this precious lady for whom I will always thank God, heard about this British soldier who was a Christian lying in the hospital and she gathered together a little party: a British soldier, a Christian to drive the car, and a small car, and her American lady coworker from the state of Oklahoma, a young woman of about 25 or 30. And they took this journey to Aballah. Parked the car in the compound of the hospital and the brigadier walked into the hospital ward with her bonnet, her ribbons, her uniform and overawed the nurse. And obtained permission for me to go out and sit in the car.
So I found myself—I really wasn’t consulted as to whether I wanted to do it or not—I found myself sitting in the car in the back seat of a very small four-seater car. In front were the driver in the driver’s seat, the Salvation Army brigadier in the front with him and this American lady missionary in the back seat beside me. The brigadier said let’s pray and when the brigadier said pray, you prayed. And we started to pray and the American lady beside me started to shake. I felt her whole body vibrating. And then she began to speak in a tongue. And, of course, I knew what that was. And then I started to shake and then all the people in the car started to shake. And then the car started to shake. And I mean, that car was shaking as if it was going on a rough road about 50 miles an hour but it wasn’t moving and the engine wasn’t running. Well, I knew that was God who had come into that car. And furthermore, it humbled me to know it was for my sake He had come.
After the message or the utterance in tongues, this lady came out with what I knew to be the interpretation. Now, New Zealanders probably won’t understand this but I was very British. I mean, I used to talk like the radio announcers of the BBC and I had not been exposed to many Americans. And this precious lady was from the state of Oklahoma. Well, anybody who knows, in the United States they talk a very different language than what a Cambridge don would speak. But when she came out with this interpretation it was the most beautiful English. I had been a student of Shakespeare, I was a great admirer of Shakespearean English. I just marveled at the elegance of this language. In the course of this interpretation she said these words which I have never forgotten. They are as clear to me today as they were in l942. These were the words and I want you to listen to them because they had a life-changing impact on me. “Consider the work of Calvary: a perfect work, perfect in every respect, perfect in every aspect.” Now you’ll agree that is very elegant English. Most people couldn’t create a sentence like that. Furthermore, it spoke to me particularly because I had studied Greek for many, many years and I was familiar with the Greek of the New Testament. And if you read your New Testament in English you’ll find one of the last utterances of Jesus on the cross was “It is finished.” But in the Greek that’s one single word, tetelestai. And it’s the perfect tense of a verb that means to do something perfectly. So you could amplify it “it is perfectly perfect, it is completely complete.” And so, when the Holy Spirit said “consider the work of Calvary: a perfect work, perfect in every respect, perfect in every aspect,” my mind said that’s the Holy Spirit’s commentary on it is finished. And I realized that the Holy Spirit was showing me that if I could understand what had been accomplished by the sacrificial death of Jesus on the cross, all my needs could be met. There was nothing that I could not receive that I needed. That was a revelation.
I got out of that car just as sick as when I got in. But God had showed me where the answer to my problem was. And that’s what I want to share with you tonight. We’re going to have a healing service tomorrow night and I trust that many will receive healing. But I question whether all will be healed. God does not heal everybody miraculously in a service. There are many different ways to appropriate healing. I received my healing after that revelation. I was healed through Proverbs 4:20–22:
“My son, attend to my words, incline thine ear unto my sayings; let them not depart from thine eyes, keep them in the midst of thine heart: for they [God’s words and sayings] are life to those who find them and health to all their flesh.”
And the alternative reading in the margin for health was medicine. And I said to myself that settles it. If God through His words has provided health or medicine for all my flesh, there’s no room for sickness. And so, I was very simple. I decided to take God’s word as my medicine. I was an orderly in the Royal Army Medical Corps so I knew how people took their medicine. Three times daily after meals. And that’s how I took God’s word as medicine, three times daily after meals. And it did the job. It healed me completely and permanently in one of the most unhealthy climates in the world.
So what I’m saying to you is God has His way to heal you. But whatever way healing comes, the basis is what was done by Jesus on the cross. And I’m not going to offer you just an orange; I’m going to invite you to the orchard. Once you get in there you can wander around and help yourself to all the oranges you want. And you’ll never strip God’s orchard bare.
Now, I want to share with you out of Scripture what I learned as a result of that experience. I set my mind to find out what had been accomplished by the death of Jesus on the cross. And I want to tell you I’m still finding out. It’s an inexhaustible study. But I’ll share with you what I believe is the key to understanding the cross. The key is that on the cross a divinely ordained exchange took place. All the evil that was due by justice to the human race, to each of us individually, was visited upon Jesus that all the good due to the sinless obedience of Jesus might be made available to us who believe. That’s very simple, it’s very basic. But as that truth unfolds it contains everything you’ll ever need. I’m going to say it even more simply. All the evil due to us came upon Jesus that all the good due to Jesus might be made available to us.
That was the grace of God. We had no claim upon God, we couldn’t demand that He do it, we didn’t even know He was going to do it, we couldn’t understand what He was doing; but out of His free sovereign measureless grace He arranged that exchange. And furthermore, through His prophets He had predicted it hundreds of years before it took place. Perhaps the main predictive prophecy is Isaiah 53. I want to turn there now and look at some of what is stated in Isaiah 53. It speaks about an unnamed servant of the Lord. His name is not given but the apostles and the writers of the New Testament were all unanimous in an understanding that this unnamed servant of the Lord in Isaiah 53 was Jesus of Nazareth. And we’re going to look at just one verse for a moment, Isaiah 53:6. This is the central verse of the last 27 chapters of Isaiah and it really is the central verse of the atonement.
“All we like sheep have gone astray. We have turned every one to his own way, and the Lord has laid on Him [that’s Jesus] the iniquity [or the guilt or the rebellion] of us all.”
What is the universal guilt of the human race? We have not all robbed a bank or committed adultery, or stolen, or got drunk. There are many things we can say we haven’t done. But there’s one thing we’ve all done. We’ve turned every one to his own way. And that in one simple word is rebellion. Rebellion is the universal guilt of the human race. No matter what nation, no matter what color, no matter what race, we are all guilty of rebellion. The mercy of God is that when Jesus hung on the cross the Lord visited upon Him the iniquity, or the guilt, or the rebellion of us all.
That word in Hebrew, and I will not take time tonight to quote passages from the Old Testament, but that Hebrew word—and the Hebrew word is avon—means not only guilt or rebellion but it means also all the evil consequences of guilt. The same word means both. So God visited upon Jesus on the cross the guilt or rebellion of the whole human race and all the evil consequences of rebellion that we might be free from those evil consequences and receive the benefits of the righteousness of Jesus.
Now we’re going to look at about eight or maybe nine, it depends on how much time we have, aspects of that exchange. I want you to grasp this very clearly. I’m going to do it with my left hand for the evil and my right hand for the good. The evil came upon Jesus that the good might be made available to us. Let’s look now at some specific aspects of the exchange and we’ll look first of all at the two previous verses of Isaiah 53. Verse 4–5:
“Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement for our peace was upon him, and by His stripes [or His wounds] we are healed.”
There are two aspects to those verses. There’s the spiritual and there’s the physical. The spiritual first. Jesus was punished for our transgressions and our iniquities. And because He was punished we can be forgiven. And being forgiven we have peace with God. As long as we are unforgiven we have no peace with God. Peace with God comes only through forgiveness. But forgiveness has been made possible because Jesus bore the punishment for our iniquities.
So, I want to do it very simply. Jesus was punished that we might be forgiven. All right? Now, I want you to share with me on this. I want you to use your hands. I want you to get really involved with your total being in this truth. Watch me once and then I’m going to ask you to do it. “Jesus was punished that we might be forgiven.” All right? Now we’re going to say it altogether with your left hand, the evil; the right hand the good. And remember, your right hand is opposite my left, don’t get confused about that. Except for those of you who are behind me! All right. Are you ready? “Jesus was punished that we might be forgiven.” That’s the first aspect of the exchange.
Now in the same verses it says:
“Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows...”
But those are not literal translations. The literal translation is He has borne our pains and carried our sicknesses, and the consequence is with His wounds we are what? Healed. You see?
I feel that you need to have that confirmed. Keep your finger in Isaiah 53 and turn to two passages of the New Testament. First of all, Matthew 8. This is simply an accident of translation that nearly all of the English translations do not translate those words with their very clear literal translation. Some other languages do. The Scandinavian languages use the normal words for sicknesses and pains. Luther’s German translation used kronkite and schmertz which are the two words for sickness and pain. It’s just an unfortunate accident. I think millions of English speaking Christians have been in some way deprived of a revelation of the physical aspect of the healing of Jesus.
If you look now in Matthew 8:16–17, this is the beginning of the public ministry of Jesus.
“When evening had come, they brought to Him [Jesus] many who were demon possessed. And He cast out the spirits with a word and healed all who were sick; that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying, ‘He himself took our infirmities and bore our sicknesses.’”
What’s he quoting? Isaiah 53:4–5. See. Matthew was Jew, he understood Hebrew and also he was inspired by the Holy Spirit.
Now turn to 1 Peter 2:24. Peter is again quoting Isaiah 53. 1 Peter 2:24, it’s the middle of a sentence but we won’t let that disturb us.
“...who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree [that’s the cross], that we, having died to sins might live for righteousness, by whose stripes [or wounds] you were healed.”
The Greek verb for healing there is the standard Greek word for physical healing from which comes the Greek word for a doctor. And it still has the same meaning in modern Greek today. So it’s very clear. On the cross Jesus took our infirmities and bore our sicknesses, and with His wounds we are healed. He was the substitute. So, we’ll do it now, the left hand and the right. I’ll do it once and then invite you to do it with me. “Jesus was wounded that we might be healed.” You don’t have to be a theologian to understand that. All right. In fact, theologians probably find it difficult. Okay. Are you ready? “Jesus was wounded that we might be healed.” Okay. That’s the first two aspects of the exchange. Number one, Jesus was punished that we might be forgiven. Number two, Jesus was wounded that we might be healed.
Now if you go down to verse 10 in Isaiah 53 you’ll find a further unfolding of what was accomplished.
“Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise [or crush] Him [Jesus]; He has put Him to grief: when you make His soul an offering for sin, He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days, the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in His hand.”
Notice that middle phrase “when you shall make His soul an offering for sin.” Alternatively it could be translated, and it makes no difference to the sense, “when His soul shall make a sin offering.” Whatever way you translate it, the fact is that Jesus’ soul was made the sin offering for the whole of humanity.
Now, the same word that’s translated sin offering, or guilt, or guilt offering is also translated guilt in the Old Testament. The reason is that according to the law of the sin offering in the Levitical priesthood, when a person sinned he had to bring his sacrificial offering. It might be a sheep, it might be a goat, it might be a ram, it might be a bullock. He brought it to the priest, confessed his sins to the priest. The priest laid his hands on the head of the animal that was the offering and symbolically transferred the sin from the man to the offering, to the animal. And then the priest killed the animal and not the man. In other words, the animal paid the penalty for the man’s sin because the animal had become identified with the sin of the man.
Now, the New Testament makes it clear that in the last resort, bullocks and sheep and goats cannot atone for man’s sin; they were just preliminary prophetic pictures of Jesus. But Jesus’ soul really became the sin offering. And in becoming the sin offering He became sin.
If you keep your finger in Isaiah 53 and turn to 2 Corinthians 5:21, you’ll find Paul’s rendering of this fact. 2 Corinthians 5:21. And I’m going to put the nouns in place of the pronouns just to make it more clear.
“For God made Jesus, who knew no sin, to be sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”
Now unless you understand the ordinances of the Old Testament sacrifices, you wouldn’t fully appreciate that in 2 Corinthians 5:21 Paul is quoting Isaiah 53:10: “When you make His soul an offering for sin.” Because when His soul became the offering for sin, His soul became sin with the sinfulness of humanity.
You don’t have to be a theologian to discern the exchange. I’ll say it once and I expect you to get it right the first time when I say it with you. “Jesus was made sin with our sinfulness that we might be made righteous with His righteousness.” Let’s look at that 2 Corinthians 5:21 again so you’ll be sure you’ve got it.
“God made Jesus, who knew no sin, to be sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”
Notice again the exchange. Jesus was made sin with our sinfulness that we might be made righteous with whose righteousness? His righteousness. Not ours, His.
All right. I’ll say it once and I expect you to follow me. “Jesus was made sin with our sinfulness that we might be made righteous with His righteousness.” Okay? You’ve got that? All right. “Jesus was made sin with our sinfulness that we might be made righteous with His righteousness.” Can you heave a sigh of relief? You don’t have to struggle to do your best to be righteous. You have to receive by faith the righteousness of Jesus Christ. Any lower level of righteousness will never get you into heaven. But God has made provision for you and me to be made righteous with the righteousness of God.
The next exchange we will turn to Hebrews 2:9. We could turn to many different passages but this I think is the simplest and shortest. Hebrews 2:9:
“But we see Jesus who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honor, that he by the grace of God might taste death for every one.”
So the wages or the penalty of sin is death. When Jesus was made sin with our sinfulness it was inevitable that He would have to pay the penalty which is death. So, Jesus tasted death for us. Now you don’t have to be a theologian to know the opposite, that we might what? Share His life. John 10:10:
“The thief cometh only to steal, to kill and destroy; but I am come that they might have [what?] life and have it more abundantly.”
So the exchange is very simple. “Jesus tasted death for us that we might, I like to say, share His life.” Okay, are you ready? “Jesus tasted death for us that we might share His life.” Can you see how very clear it is, how very logical, how very practical? Mind you, I’d have to say it took me a good many years to mind these truths out of the word of God. I’m sharing with you in an hour or two things that have cost me hours, days and weeks and months and years. I say cost but, after all, it was a blessing and a privilege.
The next exchange is stated in Galatians 3:13–14.
“Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us. For it is written, ‘Cursed is every one who hangs on a tree.’”
Remember that the cross is called a tree because in some languages, Hebrew is one and Swahili in East Africa is another, a tree is a tree whether it it’s growing or whether it’s cut down. You understand? So the cross was a cut down tree.
“Cursed is every one who hangs on a tree [verse 14:] that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.”
How many theologians do we have here who can discern the two opposites? What is the evil? Curse. What is the good? Blessing. So Jesus on the cross was made a curse. It says in the book of Deuteronomy 21:22–23 that anyone who is hung on a tree becomes a curse. So when Jesus was hung on the tree of the cross, every Jew who knew his Torah, his Old Testament, knew that Jesus had been made a curse. He was visibly made a curse. He was made a curse that we might receive the blessing.
This is an area which God has led me into in the last four or five years. And because I’m not going to have time to go into it in detail I want to just recommend to you the same book that I mentioned earlier, How to Pass From Curse to Blessing. It’s not fair just to leave you knowing you’ve been redeemed from the curse that you might receive the blessing, this is the how-to of it.
Let me just mention seven common indications of a curse. Now, most curses don’t concern merely individuals, they concern families or larger communities. And the essential feature of both curse and blessing in the Bible is that they go on from generation to generation to generation unless something happens to cut them off. So, we have dealt with people whose problems went back hundreds of years. I don’t know whether there are any Scottish people here tonight, don’t put your hands up if there are. But I have learned that the Scots were a nation of cursers. Not in the sense of swearing but in cursing one another. And Ruth and I have dealt in the last few years with two families who had curses pronounced on them in the 1600’s that were still at work in those families. One was in Scotland, the other was in Australia.
Anyhow, just very briefly let me give you on the basis of my personal observation seven common indications that there may be a curse over your life. Now, if there’s only one of these I’m not saying for sure there is a curse. But if there are several of them, and if they are found in your family in different areas and in different generations, you can be almost sure that there is a curse. Here they are.
First of all, mental and emotional breakdown.
Second, repeated or chronic sicknesses, especially if they’re hereditary because the hereditary is the indication of the curse.
Third, repeated miscarriages or related female problems. And in our ministry to the sick, Ruth and I have come to the place when we encounter that we simply deal with it as a curse.
Four, breakdown of marriage and family alienation. If there’s a history in your family of falling apart and splitting up, and it goes on and on and repeated and repeated, you can be sure there’s a curse over that family.
Five, financial insufficiency if it continues. All of us can know insufficiency at certain times, but if it’s persistent and we never get out from under it, you can be almost sure it’s a curse.
Six, what they call accident prone. “I’m naturally prone to accidents.” And this is an objective statistical fact which insurance companies take into account when they assess your insurance premium.
And seven, in a family a history of suicides or unnatural deaths.
We’re not going to dwell on that tonight but we’re going to affirm the solution. Thank God we never as Christians have to focus exclusively on the problem. We deal with the problem in order to point to the solution. So we’re going to deal with this one now. “Jesus was made a curse that we might receive the blessing.” You’re all theologians tonight. All right, are you ready? It’s not just a formality you’re saying this. Every time you say it God and the holy angels and the Holy Spirit are all taking note of what you’re saying. Remember, Jesus is the high priest of what? Your confession, that’s right. You are making a confession. All right. We’ll say it together. “Jesus was made a curse that we might receive the blessing.” Amen.
The next one is really part of that but it’s such an important part that I deal with it separately. “Jesus on the cross endured our poverty that we might share His wealth.” This came to me as a revelation years ago here in New Zealand. I was invited over with my first wife one year to speak and when we got here they had promised to pay our fares to and from the United States. They didn’t have the money. But that was all right. They said we’re going to take up an offering and we want you to preach on offering. So I was motivated! If I remember rightly it was in Auckland. Well, I’ve taught on money many times and I’ve got that book there that’s part of my teaching, you know, God’s Plan For Your Money. So I had my outline and I was preaching on it but a strange thing happened. As I was going through my outline, mentally I was seeing Jesus on the cross. And I saw Him as He really was, stripped totally naked. And as I defined the aspects of poverty I saw that every one of them exactly applied to Jesus on the cross. Well, they took the offering at the end and they had four cartons used for apples at the front on the platform. And the people streamed forward to put their money in or to put in their pledges. And that one offering covered the total expenses of everything.
The next day Lydia and I were in Auckland with the pastor and we met the people going to their savings accounts to draw out the money that they’d promised the previous night. I have never seen a more abundant offering. And the people were what the Bible calls hilarious givers. They were almost intoxicated with the excitement of giving.
But now I’ll share with you the revelation that I got. First of all, let’s do the Scriptures, the New Testament Scriptures. 2 Corinthians 8:9.
“For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor that you through His poverty might be rich.”
Now you don’t have to be a theologian to see the opposites, do you? What’s the bad thing? Poverty. What’s the good thing? Riches. All right.
Now, the opposite side of the exchange is in 2 Corinthians 9:8 which Ruth and I have already recited once. I feel better every time we do it. Okay. “God is able to make all grace abound toward us that we always, having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work.” See if you can find any area that’s not covered by that promise. God is able to make all grace abound toward us. That’s not some grace but all grace. That we always, having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work. That’s the level of God’s provision for His people made possible by the substitutionary sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. He was made poor that we might share, I prefer to say abundance because I don’t think it’s necessarily scriptural that every Christian will have a large bank account or drive a Rolls Royce. But I do believe it’s God’s will for every Christian to have his needs supplied and enough left over to give to others. Because, it’s more blessed to give than to receive. And God doesn’t want any of His children to live on the lower level of blessing so He provides abundance that we may be able to have the higher level of giving to others.
Now, some people picture Jesus in His earthly ministry as a kind of poor preacher wandering around in rags looking for handouts. I don’t think that was true. I don’t think he was poor. He was clothed like a normal man of his day and He had a very elegant seamless robe on top of the others which was so valuable that the soldiers at the cross wouldn’t divide it, they cast lots for it. I just say this. Jesus didn’t carry a lot of cash, He just used His Father’s credit card! And it was always honored. I mean, any man who can feed 5,000 men plus women and children in the wilderness and leave them abundantly satisfied is not poor. There was a time when the question arose about the tax money. He didn’t send Peter to the bank, He sent him to the Sea of Galilee. But I mean, the money came, what difference does it make?
Jesus said at the Last Supper to His disciples, “When I sent you out without staff or purse or other provision, did you lack anything?” And what did they answer? “Nothing.” There’s a lot of missionaries who got abundant allowances and are equipped with cars and houses who lack a lot of things. But those first apostles lacked nothing because they were supplied out of God’s abundance.
All right. Let’s look now for a moment at the chapter of curses. Which is that? How many of you know which is the chapter of curses? Deuteronomy 28, that’s right. It’s blessings and curses. It’s got 68 verses. It’s a long chapter. The first 14 verses are blessings and the remaining 54 verses are curses. And if you’re ever in doubt as to what a curse is, just read those 54 verses. You may find that as a Christian you’ve been enduring curses when you should have been enjoying blessings. In the middle of this, two verses in the list of curses, 47 and 48. And please note this is a curse. Deuteronomy 28:47–48:
“Because you did not serve the Lord your God with joy and gladness of heart for the abundance of all things...”
That’s God’s will. But the alternative for the unbelieving and the disobedient:
“...therefore you shall serve your enemies whom the Lord will send against you in hunger, in thirst, in nakedness and in need of all things.”
Take those four statements: hunger, thirst, nakedness, need of all things. What is that in one word? Poverty, that’s right. Absolute poverty. You can have no greater poverty than that. Being hungry, thirsty, naked and in need of all things.
Now, picture Jesus for a moment on the cross. He was hungry, He hadn’t eaten for 24 hours. He was thirsty, one of His last statements was “I thirst.” He was naked, they’d stripped Him of all His clothes. And He was in need of everything, He didn’t have a single thing. When the time came for Him to be buried He was buried in a borrowed robe and a borrowed tomb. Why? Because He exhausted the poverty curse that we might have what? The abundance, that’s right. See the exchange?
All right, let’s say it. I’ll say it once and then you say it with me. “Jesus endured our poverty that we might share His abundance.” Okay? “Jesus endured our poverty that we might share His abundance.” Look happy, it’s good news! I tell Christians it’s no sin for a Christian to be happy.
We’ll quickly do two more aspects. Our time is beginning to run out and I want to just wrap it up in a minute. But Jesus—and I’m going to say this—endured our shame that we might share His glory. If you turn to Matthew 27 you’ll find the description of the crucifixion. Matthew 27:35–36:
“Then they crucified Him, and divided His garments, casting lots...”
They took from Him all His clothes. A man in those days had four items of clothing. There were four soldiers. One soldier took one item each. Then they cast lots for the seamless robe. Then it says in verse 36:
“...sitting down they kept watch over him there.”
I want to say this in a way that is discreet, but Jesus was exposed naked to the eyes of all who passed by. And it’s a very interesting thing that you’ll notice in the record of the gospel the women that came with him stood at a distance. The only woman who came close was His mother. The Bible is so discreet. He endured our shame.
Now, what’s the opposite? We’ll turn to Hebrews again, chapter 2 and verse 10, the very next verse after the one we looked at.
“For it was fitting for him [that’s God the Father], for whom are all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the author of their salvation [that’s Jesus] perfect through sufferings.”
What was God’s purpose? To bring many sons to what? To glory. How was that made possible? Because Jesus endured our shame that we might share His glory.
I’ve discovered in counseling people that one of the deepest wounds of the human heart is shame. And there are many different causes but one very common cause in our contemporary culture is in children who have been sexually abused in childhood. And in America they estimate that’s true of one in every four children in the United States today. And it leaves a scar, a shame. But thank God we don’t have to stop at the problem. We’ve got the solution. And I have helped many people. Jesus endured your shame that you might share His glory.
You’ll find some people—I’m not looking at anybody so I want to be very careful—but you’ll see some people that when they pray never lift their face up to God. They always keep their head down like that. Usually the problem is shame. When a person is delivered—Job said, “I will lift up my face without spot to God.” Many times we’re not aware of the secret bondage that haunts us. But the release from every bondage is provided through the cross.
So let’s do the exchange. I think you can do it this time without my coaching you. You’re a wonderful group of people. All right. “Jesus endured our shame that we might share His glory.” All right.
Now just one more and we’re going to close. That’s not the end of the list but it’s the end for tonight. The final exchange is between rejection and acceptance. And here again in ministering to people I have come to the conclusion that rejection is the deepest wound that the human heart can bear. A mark of rejection is that such a person always feels on the outside looking in. Others can get in, I can’t.
Another mark of rejection is the inability to express love. John says we love God because He first loved us. I believe we can’t express love if love has never been expressed to us. It takes the expression of love to release the expression of love. And the commonest single reason why so many in our contemporary civilization carry the wound of rejection is the attitude and conduct of parents. First of all, if a woman is pregnant and resents the little new life that she’s carrying in her womb and says things like, “I wish I wasn’t going to have another baby,” that little life feels that rejection in the womb and the baby is frequently born with a spirit of rejection. I’ve dealt with this in many cases.
Then again, when a baby is born the first longing of every child planted in it by God is for warm expressed outgoing love from parents. And primarily from fathers. I have come to the conclusion it’s a father’s love, warm and expressed, that gives a child security. Oh, the strength of being held in daddy’s arms and clasped against his chest! But you see, in our contemporary culture—I think in the United States 50% of children today never receive that. And they go through life with this inner wound of rejection. Oh, how I thank God that there’s a solution.
Let me relate this little story, I won’t make it long. But I was in a camp meeting some years back in the United States and I was due to preach and I was walking across the campground. I was in danger of being late for my assignment so I was walking very quickly. And there was a lady walking just as quickly in the opposite direction and we ran into one another. So after we’d kind of pulled ourselves together she said, “Mr. Prince, I was praying that if God wanted me to speak to you, we’d meet!” Well, I said, “We have met. But I can only give you two minutes because I have to be in the auditorium to preach. So tell me what your problem is.” And she spoke for about one minute and she would have gone on for twenty. I said, “Listen, I have no more time, I think I understand your problem. I want you to say this prayer after me.” And I didn’t have in mind exactly what I was going to pray, I didn’t tell her what I was going to pray but I prayed something like this. “God, I thank you that you are my Father, that I am your child. You really love me. I’m not rejected, I’m not unwanted. I’m a member of the family of God, the best family in the universe. Thank you, God, you are my Father, I am your child. You love me and I love you. Thank you, thank you, thank you, God.” And I said there you are, good-bye. About a month later I got a letter from that lady. She described the situation, how we’d met so she’d be sure that I knew who she was. And she said, “I just want to tell you, Mr. Prince, praying that simple prayer after you had completely changed my life.” What happened to her? She passed from rejection to acceptance. She realized what it was to be a child of God.
Listen, if your parents failed you, there’s a lot of things we can’t change in the past. But your relationship to God we can guarantee.
Look at this picture of Jesus, and this is the last one we’ll look at. Matthew 27:45–51.
“Now from the sixth hour [which was 12 noon] until the ninth hour [that’s 3 p.m.] there was darkness over all the land. [verse 46] And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, ‘Eli, Eli, Lama sabachthani?’ that is, ‘My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?’ Some of those who stood there when they heard that said, ‘This man is calling for Elijah.’ Immediately one of them ran and took a sponge, filled it with sour wine and put it on a reed and gave it to Him to drink. The rest said, ‘Let Him alone, let us see if Elijah will come to save Him.’ Jesus, when He’d cried out again with a loud voice, yielded up His spirit. And behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom.”
You see, Jesus did not die of the physical effects of crucifixion. When Pilate heard He was already dead he was surprised because normally He would have lived maybe two hours longer. What did He die of? He died of a broken heart. What broke His heart? Rejection. By whom? By the Father, that’s right. For the first time in the history of the universe the Son of God cried out to the Father and the Father did not answer. Stopped His ears, averted His eyes. Why? Because Jesus had been made sin with our sinfulness and God cannot look upon sin with favor.
Jesus endured our rejection. And immediately after that He gave up His spirit and the first thing that happened was the temple veil was torn in two from top to bottom. It was extremely thick. Human beings couldn’t have torn it in two even from the bottom, but it was from top to bottom because it was the affirmation that God had done it. That was the veil that separated unholy men from a holy God. And when Jesus endured our rejection God gave us His acceptance as His children.
Let’s look to Ephesians 1 for a moment. Ephesians 1:3–6.
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ: just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be hold and without blame before Him in love: having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace by which He has made us accepted in the beloved.”
What’s the exchange? See if you can say it without my coaching. “Jesus endured our rejection that we might have His acceptance.” Wonderful, we’ll do it again. “Jesus endured our rejection that we might have His acceptance.”
Let me very quickly go through the eight aspects of the exchange that we’ve looked at. And I’ll do them with my hands. I tell you what, I’ll do them once and then you do them after me a second time. We’re not going to delay, time is slipping away. All right?
“Jesus was punished that we might be forgiven.” Listen, this time I want you to make it personal. Don’t say we, say I. “Jesus was punished that I might be forgiven.”
“Jesus was wounded that I might be healed.”
“Jesus was made sin with my sinfulness that I might be made righteous with His righteousness.”
“Jesus died my death that I might share His life.”
“Jesus was made a curse for me that I might receive the blessing.”
“Jesus endured my poverty that I might share His abundance.”
“Jesus endured my shame that I might share His glory.”
“Jesus endured my rejection that I might have His acceptance.”
Now if we really believe that you know what we have to do? We have to thank God, there’s just nothing else we can do. Let’s take a little while to thank Him, shall we. All of us freely thank Him. That’s the best expression of faith is to thank Him. Thank Him. Amen. Thank you, Lord. Thank you, Jesus. Thank you, Lord Jesus. Praise your wonderful name. We believe you, Lord. We believe you, we thank you. We bless you, blessed be your holy name Lord Jesus. You did it all for us and we want to say thank you tonight.
Now if there are those of you here tonight who have never personally thanked Jesus for what He did for you. That He died in your place. That He was made sin with your sinfulness that you may be made righteous with His righteousness. That He endured your rejection that you might have His acceptance. We would like to give you just in a few closing moments the opportunity to make that decision here tonight and affirm it. We’re talking now of people who’ve never actually accepted the atonement of Jesus on their behalf for their sins, for their souls, to receive eternal life. You’ve had that presented and painted before you tonight from the Word of God. The spirit of God is tugging at your heart and you say, “I want to make it mine tonight. I want to be sure that I have it. I don’t want to go out of this place uncertain or confused.” It’s very simple. What I’m going to ask you to do if you want to settle this with God tonight is just one simple thing. Stand up right where you are right now and I’ll lead you in a very simple prayer that will make it yours. Don’t hesitate and don’t wait because we’re not going to prolong this service much longer. You feel your need to make a personal affirmation of your acceptance of the sacrifice of Jesus on your behalf. Jesus said if you will confess Him before men He will confess you before the Father. If you deny Him before men He will deny you before the Father. So if you want to make that confession here tonight don’t look around if God is dealing with you. You stand to your feet right where you are. Don’t be embarrassed. Stand up and say, “God, I want that tonight.” Wherever you are we’ll pray for you. Praise God. God bless you. God bless you. God bless you. I may not see you all. Brothers on the platform, if you. God bless you. That’s four men have stood in the balcony. God bless you lady. Don’t sit down. Stand up. I’m going to lead you in a prayer. Stay standing. Thank you. Just stay with me and help me. God bless you. I believe there are a number more. Don’t be timid. Praise God. If I don’t acknowledge you don’t let that embarrass you. Just keep standing. What is surprising to me tonight and gratifying is the number of men that are standing. Amen. Thank you, Lord. Thank you, Lord, Thank you, Lord. Thank you, Lord. Thank you, Lord Jesus. Thank you, Lord. Thank you, Lord. Yes, I’ve seen that lady. If I don’t see you after all, that’s not a big problem. God sees you. That’s what matters. Now there are some more who need to stand. Some of you who’ve been churchgoers all your life but you’ve never actually made this personal decision and affirmation. God bless you. I see another one standing there. God bless you. I just don’t have liberty to close this meeting right now. We’re not trying to pressure you, we’re just trying to help you. There’s somebody somewhere that needs to stand.
God, we just pray in Jesus’ name, and release, bless you, and release those who are bound by fear. Lord, we release them now in the name of Jesus, that they may.. God bless you. Keep standing, don’t sit down again. Stand up please that lady there. Don’t be embarrassed. Brothers and sisters I want to tell you…God bless you, sir. I see you. One day if we’re embarrassed to stand for Jesus now we’re going to be terribly embarrassed when we stand before Him. Two more in the balcony. Wonderful. Christians keep praying. I hope you can be patient just a little longer. This is so important. Amen. Amen. Amen. Amen. Praise God. Alright. I have a feeling that there’s one or two quite young persons, boys or girls even below the age of the teens, that need to stand. Now I now it’s a big thing to stand in front of all these grownups but if God is prompting you, you just do it. There are people in the James Hay Auditorium, I hope you’ve been standing because this offer is just as much to you as it is to anybody here. Amen. Amen. Alright. Those of you that have, that are standing I want you to say this prayer after me. You’re going to be praying to the Lord Jesus Christ, you’re not praying to Brother Prince. And I’d like you to say it just loud enough to hear yourself, alright? So that you know when you walk out of here you’ve said that prayer. Can you say these words and address them to the Lord Jesus. “Lord, Jesus Christ, I believe that you are the Son of God and the only way to God. That you died on the cross for my sins and rose again from the dead. I thank you for what you did for me and by faith I receive it now. I receive you Jesus as my Savior and I confess you as my Lord. Accept me now and make me a child of God in Jesus’ name I pray. Amen. Shall we all thank God together for those. Thank you.
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